Divers find missing woman's cell phone

Divers from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office dive team on Thursday search a drainage creek off North Creek Driver in Mount Pleasant for clues in the disappearance of 30-year-old Dara Watson.

Authorities are searching a number of small ponds near the Mount Pleasant home where Dara Watson and David Hedrick lived before she was reported missing and he killed himself.

Earlier today, divers with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office dive team found Dara Watson's cell phone in a pond near Hedrick's house on North Creek Drive, according to published reports.

By 5 p.m., divers had searched at least five ponds in the Rivertowne subdivision. Divers were walking shoulder-to-shoulder through the shallow ponds to make sure they didn't miss anything.

This morning, Mount Pleasant police were in the Francis Marion National Forest hunting for clues in the woman's disappearance. She has not been seen since Feb. 6.

Capt. Stan Gragg said a team of officers was using tracking information from her cell phone, and other clues to search for the 30-year-old accountant, who was reported missing last Friday.

Gragg confirmed that Dara's cell phone was found by a dive team searching a pond very near the couple's North Creek Drive home. A nearly six-foot alligator was also found during the day and was captured and taken away by DNR, he said.

The team spent time this morning in the area of United Drive in Huger. Gragg said he has received no updates as to where the officers are working this afternoon.

Charleston County Sheriff's Maj. Jim Brady said the county's dive team also planned to assist Mount Pleasant today with the search of a pond near the home Watson shared with fiance David Hedrick. Hedrick was found dead inside the North Creek Drive home on Friday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

For days, authorities have been actively combing the national forest, where Watson's sport utility vehicle was burned and abandoned Feb. 7. A motorist said he saw Hedrick walking from the scene and carrying a shovel.

Recordings of a 911 call released Wednesday portray the fear Hedrick's friends held that something had gone wrong between Hedrick and his missing fiancee.

Charles Gilbert, 43, of James Island was one of two friends who checked on Hedrick on Friday. They were peering into his house when they heard a gunshot. After breaking in, they found the 34-year-old CEO taking his last breaths after he had shot himself in the head.

"He and his girlfriend just broke up," Gilbert told a dispatcher. "His girlfriend's missing. I had a bad feeling. I want to search the house so bad I can't stand it, dude. Why else would he kill himself?"

Brady, spokesman for the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, confirmed that a shovel had been found Saturday off Halfway Creek Road, about a mile east of Guerins Bridge Road. Investigators planned to run tests, including DNA swabs, to possibly connect it to Hedrick or Watson.

Watson failed to show up for work last week, and her boss reported her missing Friday. Hedrick killed himself less than three hours later.

Some members of the community held out hope that Watson will be found alive. A vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Friday at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.

The event's organizer, Kimberly Kite, doesn't know Watson but said she got involved because of her knowledge of other missing-person cases.

"It will give people a place to see what's going on and to pray," the former police officer said. "You don't want to see anything bad happen."

Edward C. Fennell contributed to this report.